The traditional bull taming or bull hugging sport of Tamil Nadu, called Jallikattu, is now back in the news. This is an ancient 5,000-year-old sport that is deeply enmeshed in the rural way of life and worship of local deities. Sangam literature (2nd century CE) has several references to the sport of bull hugging (ஏறுதழுவல்). It is usually conducted as a part of week-long festivities associated with the Hindu festival of Pongal (Makara Sankranthi).
The day after Pongal is dedicated to bovine farming animals when they are decorated, celebrated and worshipped. However, based on a petition by animal welfare/rights groups, the Supreme Court banned Jallikattu in May 2014. Since then the people of Tamil Nadu have felt victimised over this emotive issue and have perceived this ban to be a grave assault on their longstanding culture, tradition, and worship patterns.
Although the people and politicians of Tamil Nadu blame everyone from animal welfare groups to the Supreme Court, to foreign corporate firms, did the native Dravidian movement wittingly contribute to this degeneration? Can simple apolitical farmers of Tamil Nadu (and elsewhere) understand the machinations of globally organised NGO networks and the Idea-of-India lobby? Can they learn from the vulnerability fostered by more than five decades of Dravidian movement? What can they do to prevent being easy pickings for more of such cultural assaults?
To read more, click here for the original article in Swarajya magazine